“Spaceballs” – Going where No “Star Wars” Parody has gone Before

On the 25th of May, 1977, a little movie entitled “Star Wars”: A New Hope was released in theatres worldwide.  A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far, away,  Luke Skywalker, ( Mark Hamill),a humble farmboy, gets thrust into an intergalactic war, and must rescue a princess from distress. As you all know, the franchise is possibly one of the most iconic out there, next to “Lord of the Rings”, “Harry Potter”, “James Bond” and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 2017 marks the 40th anniversary of this acclaimed series. So, to celebrate, I’m going to review  Mel Brook’s 1987 parody “Spaceballs”, which gleefully sends up all of the common tropes and plot lines from George Lucas’ classic space odyssey adventure, and while the plot closely rehashes many elements of the original trilogy, it also pokes fun of other TV shows and movies, such as “Star Trek”, “Jaws”, “Alien” and “Planet of the Apes”, in very much the same fashion as the “Airplane” or “Naked Gun” movies!

In “Spaceballs”,  the villainous Dark Helmet (Rick Moranis) plots to capture spoiled princess Vespa (Daphne Zuniga) and deprive her planet Druidia of air. It’s up to scruffy space jockey Lone Starr (Bill Pullman) and his loyal mawg (Half-man, half-dog) sidekick Barf (John Candy) to step up to the challenge and rescue her. Along the way, they encounter some parodies of “Star Wars” characters, such as the CP30 inspired bot, Dot Matrix (voiced by Joan Rivers), gangster Pizza the Hut (Dom DeLuise), and the sage mentor Yoghurt (played by Brooks himself), who advises our heroes to use the power of “the schwartz” when necessary.

In one word, “Spaceballs”, is, well, ridiculous. However, it’s cheerfully aware of its own absurdity, and has the characters acknowledge that they’re in a movie several times by openly “breaking the forth wall, so to speak. This is brilliantly conveyed in one particular scene, in which Helmet and his underling, Colonel Sandurz (George Wyner) actually watch “Spaceballs: The Movie” in order to get a solution to their current dilemma, and end up viewing themselves viewing themselves in the actual scene that we’re currently watching! A similar joke also involves Yoghurt brandishing “Spaceballs” merchandise, including t-shirts, lunchboxes and a flamethrower.

Another favourite gag towards the end of the movie involves a cameo from the late actor, John Hurt, in a replication of his famous “chestbuster” scene from the original “Alien” (1979) movie. This  comes complete with the alien performing a ragtime dance number in the style of Michigan J. Frog from the old cartoon short “One Froggy Evening”. Hurt’s reaction of “Not again” , makes the spectacle all the more funnier.

John Candy, as always, is as brilliant with his jokes as ever. In addition to Yoghurt, Brooks also plays ditsy Spaceball president  Skroob, and Rick Moranis, best known for playing nerdy characters in works such as “Ghostbusters” and “Honey, I shrunk the kids”.

“Spaceballs” is a fun movie to watch, and I give it 3 out of 5 stars in total. Even if you’re not a fan of the “Star Wars” franchise, you may enjoy many of the cultural gags and references that are scattered throughout.  The movie was followed by a short lived animated adaptation decades later, but it didn’t fare too well, and was axed by the network before it even aired. Its brand of humour won’t suit to everyone’s tastes. Nevertheless, I would still recommend giving this flick a watch, anyway. May the schwartz be with you!

A “Wonderful” Love Triangle Movie

Hello everyone!  It’s back to the 80’s reviews, and what better movie to kick off with than “Some Kind of Wonderful” (1987), directed by Howard Deutch. It has the old familiar set up of the hero being caught between two contrasting choices of girls. Roger Ebert probably summed up the concept best in his review, “it is not about whether the hero will get the girl, it is whether the hero should get the girl, and when was the last time you saw a movie that even knew that could be the question?”

Eric Stolz stars as Keith Nelson, an artsy teenage mechanic from a working class background. His best friend is a tomboyish drummer named Watts (Mary Stuart Masterson), and his dad Cliff (John Ashton), puts pressure on him to attend college, and get the education he never did, while Keith would much rather paint instead. He has a crush on the beautiful, seemingly unattainable Amanda Jones (Lea Thompson). In a refreshing take on the normal procedure, Amanda comes from the same modest background as Watts and Keith, but as she hangs out with the “popular” crowd, this makes her “rich by association”.

After Amanda breaks up with her caddish boyfriend, Hardy (Craig Sheffer), Keith wastes no time in asking her out. She accepts his offer, primarily out of spite for Hardy.  This eventually leads to Amanda being shunned by her snooty friends for daring to date outside the “in” crowd. Meanwhile, Watts has some issues of her own, as she has developed unrequited feelings for her best friend…

If you feel that the story that I’ve summarized sounds a little familiar, it’s because it was based the movie “Pretty in Pink” (1986), which preceded this movie by one year. It was not only directed by Howard Deutch, but was scripted by the king of 80’s teen movies, John Hughes. It’s worth noting that the stories are eeriely similar to each other. While “Pink” is about Molly Ringwald trying to choose between a smooth rich guy Andrew McCarthy and quirky best friend Jon Cryer, “Wonderful”  has essentially the exact same premise with the genders reversed.

When Hughes produced “Pretty in Pink”, his original intention was to have Molly Ringwald end up with Jon Cryer’s lovable goofball Duckie. However, the test audience for that film weren’t receptive to that ending, taking it as a sign that the rich and the poor social classes didn’t belong together. The ending was then changed to the one we all know, in which Ringwald ends up with McCarthy’s. It’s funny to note that had “Pink” ended up the way that Hughes originally envisioned it, it’s highly likely that we wouldn’t have “Wonderful”.

If I had to pick between “Pink” and “Wonderful” as being the better film, I’d ultimately have to choose the latter movie, as the supporting characters are more fleshed out and entertaining in my opinion. In “Wonderful”, we have  Duncan(Elias Koteas), a skinhead delinquent pal of Keith’s,who steals many of his scenes,  Laura (Maddie Corman), his annoying younger sister, and Ashton as the open-minded parent who just wants the best for his son.

As for the main trio of Stolz, Masterson and Thompson, they all pull off their respective roles with aplomb. Stolz is appealing as the man in the middle, Thompson pulls off the typical popular girl role with freshness, and Masterson shines as the friend who pines away from afar.

“Some Kind of Wonderful” rates as 4 stars our of a 5 star rating. Although it’s predictable and slow moving in parts, it ultimately captures the decisions of high school, and retains the typical Hughes charm that come from his teen movies. “Some Kind of Wonderful” was the last teen movie Hughes was involved in, before he decided to try his hand at making more adult themed pictures. Nevertheless, “Wonderful” ensures that Hughes’ teen movie period went out with not a fizzle, but with a bang.

If you enjoyed this review, please feel free to check out the movie, “Pretty in Pink”, or you can read my review of the film here! Until next time!

Living on the Edge of Seventeen

First of all, let me just say “Happy 2017”! I apologise for putting this blog on hiatus for the past number of weeks. Surprising perhaps no one,I have spent most of that break watching plenty of 80’s movies to be the subjects of my future reviews of all things 80’s. My latest post is a little different, however, as it is based in the recently released movie, “The Edge of Seventeen” (2016), which is the directorial debut from screenwriter Kelly Fremon Craig. I was especially anticipating this movie because the leading role was played by Hailee Steinfeld, who I’ve admired as an actress since I saw her Oscar Nominated turn in the Coen Brothers’ 2010 remake of the classic 1969 western movie, “True Grit” at the tender age of 13.

The plot concerns Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld), an awkward, moody 17 year old girl who is trying to cope after the tragic  loss of her father just a few years prior. She feels overlooked by her frazzled mother Mona (Kyra Sedgwick) in favour of her “golden boy” brother, Darian (Blake Jenner).  She seeks solace in her best (not to mention, only) friend Krista (Haley Lu Richardson). At least until Darian and Krista hit it off and start dating, which instigates in Nadine abruptly putting an end to their friendship.

Feeling adrift and as alienated as ever, Nadine regularly vents her woes to her perpetually disgruntled teacher, Mr. Bruner (an always excellent Woody Harrelson), who is almost always reliable to respond to Nadine’s theatrics with some deadpan remarks of his own. On the romance front, Nadine harbours a crush on hunky bad boy Nick (Alexander Calvert), and tries to pluck up the courage to actually, you know, talk to him. Meanwhile, she strikes up a friendship with cute film nerd, Erwin (Hayden Szeto), who just might be able to show her that things are not nearly as bad as she makes them appear…

First things first, I really adored this movie. It manages to take a genre that would otherwise seem tired and overdone (in this case, high school), and breath a new lease of life into it. Being only a few years removed from high school myself, all of the teenage characters behaved and acted as real people their age would, and not simply a scriptwriter’s “idea” of how they “should” act.

This is most prominently shown with Nadine herself. On the outset, she’s a tough protagonist to root for. Yes, she’s a drama queen, overly impulsive, and extremely rude at some points to the people she’s supposedly close to, such as her family, her best friend and her teacher. But she’s a teenager, and many of her reactions at that age are understandable. It helps to make her feel more authentic as a result.

The supporting cast are also commendable in their roles. I had only ever seen Blake Jenner portray the “nice guy jock” in “Glee” prior to watching this movie. As a result, I found myself to be pleasantly surprised by the depths that Darian’s character took throughout the course of the movie. Because Nadine’s the protagonist, and the majority of the film is from her perspective, we’re not privy to other characters’ viewpoints until Nadine herself is made aware of them. Darian isn’t merely a smug jerk, nor is Krista being selfish by putting her boyfriend ahead of her best friend. They all have more going on with them than it initially appeared.

The highlight of the movie for me was any scene with Erwin. I always love nerdy characters in movies, and Erwin is no exception. He’s a sweet, well-adjusted guy, and is refreshingly not a stereotype , but much like Nadine, a real character. I was pretty surprised when I looked Hayden Szeto up online, and discovered that he’s 31 years old, yet Erwin can’t be no more than 16 or 17. However, this does does not take away from his otherwise solid performance.

In summation, I rate “The Edge of Seventeen” four and a half out of five stars. It’s one of the best high school movies that I’ve had the chance of viewing in quite a while, and I highly recommend watching it. Even though Nadine can be quite grating at times, once you get past that slight, the film works very well. It’s also topped off with a satisfying conclusion, which nicely ties up Nadine’s story arc.

I hope that you enjoyed this non  80’s movie review. As always, please feel free to suggest some more “Flix of the 80’s” .

Why We Won’t Forget About “The Breakfast Club”

 

There are some movies out there that are simply iconic, whether they define a certain genre. “The Godfather” is considered the ultimate gangster thriller, “Rocky” as the top sports flick, and “Star Wars” as the greatest Space fantasy epic. But when it comes to high school movies, one is nearly always lauded as being the one that nearly everyone will remember as being the one flick which actually gets what’s its like to be a teenager- 1985’s “The Breakfast Club”, written and directed by the  king of 1980’s teen movies, John Hughes (1950-2009).

The Plot in a Nutshell:   March 24th, 1984, Shermer High School. Five high school students, all different stereotypes, who would never interact with each other under normal circumstances,  are forced to spend a  Saturday together – in detention. There’s John Bender, the aggressive, rebellious tough guy (Judd Nelson), Brian, the intellectual, amiable nerd, (Anthony Michael Hall), Claire, the pristine and pampered rich girl (Molly Ringwald), Andy, the acclaimed wrestler (Emilio Estevez), and Allison, the anonymous eyeliner-clad   loner (Ally Sheedy). They appear to have nothing in common except for their detained status and contempt for their overzealous, pompous principal, Richard Vernon (Paul Gleason). Initially, they do nothing but snipe at each other, and keep their distance, but as the day gradually wears on,they begin to learn about each of their home lives, and how there’s more to each of them than their first impressions suggested…

Actor/Character Observations:   Everyone gets a chance to shine, and not a single cast member can be faulted for their performances.  Hall is appealing as the sweet, vulnerable nerd with a hidden dark side, and Ringwald manages to make a typical snobby popular girl archetype into a sympathetic character. Estevez shows off his emotional acting chops in a rather touching scene. Sheedy makes the most out of playing a character who doesn’t even speak for most of her screentime, so she has to rely reacting to the others, until she slowly comes out of her shell .She and Estevez get some engaging moments together.  Nelson is at the core of most of the proceedings as  the thug whose wisecracks and bravado mask some deep-seated emotional problems.

The adult characters aren’t as strong as the teenagers, but Gleason delivers in his role as a grouchy disciplinarian who has lost touch with his youth. Finally, John Kapelos, as Carl the Janitor, acts as a foil to Vernon, in that he can easily relate to the kids, and has much more common sense than Vernon.

 My Favourite Scene(s) in “The Breakfast Club”: Where do I even begin with this category? There’s the crazily awesome dancing sequence where the gang just lets loose and dance together in the library, the club’s big emotional therapy session, and Bender’s “Eat my Shorts” verbal smackdown to Vernon (which may or may not have influenced Bart Simpson’s catchphrase only a few years later) .

But the most poignant moment has to be that after the group have emotionally opened up about their respective issues, they deduce that they’ll never be like their abusive parents. This prompts Allison to utter  “When you grow up, your heart dies”. This line alone sums up the belief that once we grow up, we lose all touch of the innocence and the possibilities that supposedly attends our teenage years. It’s after this scene that our protagonists appear willing to defy the  fate of becoming just as cold and uncaring as their parents before them.

My Least Favourite Scene(s) in “The Breakfast Club”: The scene that I always find difficult to watch in an otherwise fantastic movie is the one which takes place after Claire shows off her “lipstick trick” in front of the others (i.e. her ability to put on lipstick using her breasts). Bender is the only one who is unimpressed, and proceeds to cruelly mock and belittle her in front of everyone else.  Granted, he did have a rough home life, but it was still no excuse for reducing the poor girl to tears.

Ratings and Recommendations: So, after watching the movie again, do I still like it as much as I did? Well, after watching it again, I have to admit that it’s still one of my top movies. Even though it had been a while seen I had last viewed it, I still recall relating to the characters and their plights. The reason that this movie continues to relate to modern audience  members is because nearly everyone can identify with the protagonists. Even if you don’t empathize with the kids, you can still feel for Carl and Vernon, much like my friend. It delivers the underlying message is that nobody is alone, and we’re all going through similar issues in our lives, without being preachy.  “The Breakfast Club”earns a total of 4 and a half out of 5 stars from me.

So what do you think?  Is “The Breakfast Club” a classic or just plain overrated? Which clique did you fit into in school? Feel free to let me know! But for now, I’ll let Simple Minds have the last word with their iconic ditty, “Don’t You (Forget About Me)”. Until next time!

“Secret Admirer”- Possibly one of the Oddest Teen movies of the 80’s?

Greetings and salutations, everyone! My apologies for my prolonged absence from this blog. I hope to remedy this problem with my next selection of reviews in the foreseeable future, so please stay tuned for more 80’s content!

I have seen my far share of corny movies in my time. Some can be charming in their ridiculousness.However, some can seem to  have all the makings of a typical 80’s teen romp, yet attempt to do do more than its material knows what to do with. This brings us to today’s subject: “Secret Admirer” (1985). The plot synopsis appears to be rather straightforward at first glance, but as the movie progresses, you’ll find that it’s anything but simple!

The Plot in a Nutshell: Michael Ryan (C. Thomas Howell) is your standard 80’s high school student who is infatuated with the blonde, seemingly unattainable Deborah Anne Fimple (Kelly Preston), while his brunette platonic friend Toni (Lori Loughlin) harbors a covert crush on him from afar. When Michael receives an anonymous letter in his locker, his buddy Roger (Casey Siemaszko) convinces Michael that Deborah Anne is the sender, despite her already having a college boyfriend in Steve (Scott McGinnis). He decides to reciprocate by sending Debbie a letter of his own. However, he proves to be less than a skilled writer, so Toni secretly doctors it before delivering it to Debbie, who instantly becomes smitten with Michael.

At this point, you’d think you know what to expect from a movie in this genre, right? Well, not so with this one! You see, the love letter ends up in a bag belonging to Michael’s father, George (Cliff DeYoung), who is taking a night school business class from Debbie’s mother Elizabeth (Leigh Taylor Young ). Naturally, George mistakenly thinks that the letter is from Elizabeth, and they engage in one of those comedic tropes I’ve always loathed, in which two characters talk about two completely different things, but somehow think that they’re discussing the same subject, which is typically laden with a string of sexual innuendos. It would be easier if they could just figure out the misunderstanding and sort it out, but then we wouldn’t have “hysterical” shenanigans!

Meanwhile, Debbie and Michael start to date and hit it off, much to Toni’s jealousy. And if that wasn’t bad enough, Debbie’s tough police officer father, Lou (Fred Ward) uncovers the letter in his wife’s purse, where Debbie had previously hidden it, and suspecting the worst, seeks out the help of George’s wife Connie (Dee Wallace Stone) in order to catch out their offending partners in the act. How’s this one going to pan out?

Actor/Character Observations: Lori Loughlin, as Toni, delivers possibly one of the more rounded performances in this picture, and is likable enough that you want to see her get the guy. C. Thomas Howell is credible enough in this movie, although wooden in places, and Kelly Preston is convincing enough for the most part as the stereotypical blonde popular girl. The adult actors do try to make the material they have to work with plausible, but it comes off as being preposterous.

My Favourite Scene(s) in “Secret Admirer”: Although many scenes in this movie are way too outlandish and over the top to take seriously, especially those between the adults, there are a few genuine, tender moments between the teenagers, especially the conversations between Michael and Toni, which compensates slightly for the more hammy and forced hiumours involving the adults. The actors have just the right amount of chemistry together which makes it seem believable that they could be close friends.

My Least Favourite Scene(s) in “Secret Admirer”: One scene which made me cringe, in addition to the aforementioned “double meaning conversation scene”,  was a confrontation between the parents late in the movie, where a tense meeting during a card game gradually segues into a full scale brawl between Lou and George,  culminating in tables being overturned and food splattering everywhere, which is obviously designed to be funny, but mostly comes off as being awkward and try hard. In general, many of the parent’s scenes feels as though it belongs in a separate  movie involving cheating spouses and adultery, and not as a side plot to a light-hearted teen comedy.

Actors Before They were Famous: A few years after this movie, Lori Loughlin got her big break from portraying Aunt Becky in “Full House”, which incidentically had an episode play out like the plot of this movie. The late Cory Haim appears in a bit part as Michael’s bratty kid brother, Jeff, who by stealing the letter, sends most of the plot into motion. Finally, Casey Siemaszko would pop up in “Back to the Future”, which was released a month after “Secret Admirer”, as one of Biff’s cronies.

Ratings and Recommendations: I award “Secret Admirer” a total of 2 out of 5 stars. While it’s generally an inoffensive, harmless teen movie, some of the characters aren’t that likable or relatable, with the exception of Toni, and many scenes just feel gratuitous, as though they’re present merely to increase the movie’s running time. Even though I gave “Can’t Buy Me Love”(1987) some flack for being too formulaic when I critiqued it, at least I can give it some credit for knowing what kind of story it wanted to tell.

In my opinion, “Secret Admirer” might have been better off if it had focused solely on the teenagers and their romantic entanglements, and not so much on the parents. I may not have enjoyed this movie to the same extent as other teen movies, and while it certainly isn’t the most memorable, you’ll enjoy the sheer ridiculousness of it all if you don’t analyse it too much. Until next time!

Elisabeth Shue beats the Babysitting Blues in Classic 80’s Comedy

Hi there! Since the Disney Channel’s remake of “Adventures in Babysitting” starring Sabrina Carpenter and Sofia Carson premiered  as the 100th Disney Channel Original Movie recently, I decided that I would also view its 1987 predecessor of the same name, directed by Chris Columbus, who was also in the director’s chair in the first two movies in the Harry Potter Franchise, as well as “Home Alone”, “Gremlins” and “Mrs Doubtfire”.

Growing up, I used to dub this movie as “The Female Ferris Bueller Movie”, as even though the plots are vastly different from each other, they both deal with the characters having adventures through the course of only a few hours. And naturally, both deal with the main characters having to race to get home before the parents do. So, how does “Adventures in Babysitting” hold up almost 3 decades after its initial release?

The Plot in a Nutshell: It was only supposed to be a simple babysitting gig… Chris Parker (Elisabeth Shue) is your average suburban teenager who is anticipating date night with her hunky boyfriend Mike (Bradley Whitford), when he cancels on her at the last minute. So she’s lumbered with having to babysit the two Anderson kids, precocious and sarcastic Sara, (Maia Brewton), who has an obsession with sledgehammer wielding superhero Thor,  and sensitive older brother Brad (Keith Coogan), who has his own obsession in the form of an unrequited crush on his babysitter. Chris gets a sudden phone call from her runaway best friend Brenda (Penelope Ann Miller), who is stuck is a dodgy bus station in the middle of the Chicago city. After being blackmailed by Brad’s sleazy friend Daryl (Anthony Rapp) into taking him along with them, the quartet take off to pick up Brenda.

On route, Chris’ car gets a flat wheel , prompting them to hitch a lift with  one-armed trucker”Handsome” John Pruitt (John Ford Noonan), who seems friendly, until he finds out that his wife is cheating on him, that is. Following a shootout against the adulterous pair, Chris and the kids make a break for a getaway vehicle, right as it’s being stolen by amicable car thief Joe Gipp (Calvin Levels). This leads them to them being on the run from gangsters/car thieves after Daryl steals a Playboy with crucial information written on (and the model just so happens to resemble Chris- what are the chances?)

From there, the night just gets more crazier from that moment on, with their crazy excursion leading them to a blues club, a college party, where they run into helpful college student Dan(George Newbern), and a climax which involves a skyscraper tower. Will our heroes ever make it back before the Anderson parents?

Actor/Character Observations: Even though I felt that Elisabeth Shue’s character in “The Karate Kid” was rather bland, here I feel that because her character was of the most importance this time round, she actually carries the movie along. And the kid actors here given funny  lines, and generally weren’t annoying, as some child actors are prone to be. Out of the three kids, I enjoyed Sara the most, as she had some of the best quips. Coogan’s Brad was sweet and at times pitiful, thanks to his unattainable crush on Chris.

My Favourite Scene(s) in “Adventures in Babysitting”: The scene where Chris and her babysitting charges find themselves in a blues club following a chase from the gangsters and are forced to improvise a blues number to get off the stage. Chris sings a ditty inspired by her hectic night, with the blues musicians backing them up, complete with real life musician Albert Collins making an appearance as himself. The 2016 Disney remake converted this scene into a rap battle ,as a way to appeal to contemporary generations. In my case, it simply made me cringe for the entirety of its duration, and didn’t compare to the blues scenario of the original.

My Least Favourite Scene(s) in “Adventures in Babysitting”: I may be in the majority with this, both I found the scene towards the end of the movie where the quartet have to sneak into a party where Brad and Sara’s parents attending seems would have to get my vote for the scene I found tiresome. It appears to be more slapstick in tone than the rest of the movie, and the bulk of that scene features Chris having to don a mink coat to evade the possibility of the Andersons spotting her. It just didn’t work well at all for me.

Actors before they were Famous: Believe it or not, but Daryl’s actor, Anthony Rapp, would go on to originate the role of aspiring filmmaker Mark Cohen in the first production of legendary musical “Rent”. Similarly, Bradley Whitford, as the caddish Mike, later went on to have a career on the successful political show, “The West Wing”. (Even though Mike is presumably a high school senior, like Chris and Brenda, Whitford was 28 at the time, and he looks every one of those years!) Finally, Vincent D’Onofrio, from “Full Metal Jacket”, “Men in Black” and “Jurassic World” fame, cameos as Dawson, the garage boss.

Ratings and Recommendations: I’d give “Adventures in Babysitting” a solid rating of 3 and a half stars out of five. While some of the situations that our heroes find themselves in border on being slightly ridiculous, chances are that you’ll just go along with the plot, regardless of the lack of realism presented.

If you liked this feature, then I’d recommend viewing “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” (you can read my review of the flick here.) If you’re interested in seeing the Disney remake, which has toned down many of the adult themes of the 80’s classic (namely omitting the swearing and the Playboy subplot), I’d suggest watching that with younger children. Please let me know if you’ve seen the reboot, and whether you prefer the classic or original flick!

 

Rio isn’t to blame for Misguided “Comedy”

Those of you who who are familiar with my blog may remember my review on the 1983 movie “Flashdance”, around this time last year. It was a mediocre movie at best, not the worst I’ve ever seen, but it’s definitely far from being my most spectacular movie experience. As I detailed in that review, I was irritated by the characters, the plot and the whole implausibility of the premise. I was convinced that, at the time, I wouldn’t find need to review another  movie which annoyed me to the same extent as that one did.

Alas, I was sadly mistaken, as I came across one such film-  1984’s “Blame it on Rio”, starring British actor and Oscar Winner Michael Caine. I was hoping that due to Caine being a part of the cast, and with Hollywood starlet Demi Moore in her first movie role, that it would add an appeal to it. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case, as will be explained.

The Plot in a Nutshell: Matthew (Caine) and Victor (Joseph Bologna) are best friends and businessmen who operate multiple hotels in several areas. Each has a teenage daughter- Nikki (Moore) for Matthew, and Jennifer (newcomer Michelle Johnson) for Victor. Victor is going through a rough divorce. Matthew’s own marriage isn’t faring any better, which he isn’t aware of until his wife Karen (Valerie Harper) informs him that she intends to boycott their intended holiday to Rio de Janeiro, and take a separate vacation by herself “to think things over”. This prompts Matthew and Victor to take the journey to Brazil with Nikki and Jennifer.

While there, Jennifer seduces Matthew, and in a moment of weakness, they have sex right there on the beach. The following morning, Jennifer attempts to resume their tryst where they left off, much to Matthew’s reluctance and insistence that it was a once off situation. This doesn’t thwart Jennifer, and she goes as far as to publicly bombard him with racy Polarids of herself. In the meantime, Victor suspects that Jennifer has a new beau, and enlists Matthew’s assistance in uncovering his identity.

Actor/Character Observations: In my opinion, none of the actors appear to be comfortable in their roles. Even Michael Caine doesn’t seem to surpass the material long enough, despite the fact that he’s a very talented actor. Johnson does what she can with the material, in her first leading role, even though she was 17 at the time. This makes her romance with Caine’s character all the more icky, as he was in his 40’s. Nikki isn’t given much to do, save for a scene where she passive aggressively ignores Matthew after witnessing him kiss Jennifer, but that’s the extent of it. Joseph Bologna didn’t really convince me as his character , but he has some comic timing with Caine.

But out of all of these characters, none of them made me more angry than Karen did. Once Matthew inevitably comes clean about his fling with Jennifer, she has the gall to be livid with him, when ( as we eventually learn), she hasn’t exactly been faithful herself. And nobody, not even Matthew, points out that if she hadn’t been so aloof with him in the first place, then he might’t have been so easily tempted by a teenage girl. Yet all blame is directed at Matthew (and to a lesser extent, Jennifer), leaving Karen to escape all retribution for her actions.

Favourite Scene(s) in “Blame it on Rio”: The only time I laughed at all during this movie was during the scene where Victor is poring through Jennifer’s diary in vain to uncover her new partner’s identity. When he reads that he has “lovely blue eyes”, Matthew instantly dons a pair of sunglasses to cover up his eyes. However, my laugh was a half-hearted one, as I felt that the whole situation, despite it being largely played for laughs, was still rather creepy and inappropriate.

Least Favourite Scene(s) in “Blame it on Rio”: It’s hard to pick just one scene that I utterly despised in a movie which seemed to be crammed with unpleasant moments. But the one that takes the cake for me was when Matthew and Victor are forced to share a bed together whilst bickering. Again, it’s played to generate laughs, but the whole subject matter just didn’t seem funny to me in the slightest.

My Take on “Blame it on Rio”: In my opinion, “Blame it on Rio” had the potential to be a memorable movie, but unfortunately the plot doesn’t quite payoff as expected. None of the characters, except Matthew, garnered my sympathy at all, and the entire plot was milking a serious situation for laughs. Towards the end, I never got the impression that any of the characters had learned anything from their exploits, and that they would be likely to slip into their old habits again.

Ratings and Recommendations: I award “Blame it on Rio” with two stars out of five. It just wasn’t riveting enough to capture my attention. As always, if any of you like this movie, that’s dandy, but it just wasn’t to my taste. I wouldn’t recommend “Blame it on Rio” to anyone in particular. If you’re looking for a Michael Caine film to view, I’d redirect you to “The Italian Job” (1967) or Caine’s Oscar winning turn in “Hannah and her Sisters”, the latter which features Caine as a more sympathetic character.